Democrats maintain state House majority in Pennsylvania after two special elections

Democrats maintained a majority in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives following two special elections in House Districts 108 and 163 on May 16, 2023.

Heather Boyd (D) defeated Katie Ford (R) and Alfe Goodwin (L) 59.9% to 38.8% and 1.3%, respectively, in District 163. She succeeds Michael Zabel (D), who resigned on March 16.

Michael Stender (R) defeated Trevor Finn (D) and Elijah Scretching (L) 70.7% to 25.7% and 3.7%, respectively, in District 108. He succeeds Lynda Schlegel Culver (R), who resigned on Feb. 28 after she won a special election in the Pennsylvania State Senate.

Finn was elected to the Montour County commission in 2004. He said his campaign platforms were “economic development, [advancing] the cause of all citizens, and protecting our small town heritage.” Stender was elected as an at-large member of the Shikellamy School Board in 2021. Stender’s campaign website said, “he supports American energy independence, backs our workers and small businesses and works to bring fiscal responsibility to state government.” 

Boyd worked as the district director for U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D) and said she was running “to make sure that every person and family in our district gets the resources and representation they deserve. … [I] will fight for laws and budgets that serve the district.” Ford was a special needs instructor and said one of her priorities “will be to fight for the increased funding needed to properly educate our children, including those with special needs. … Public safety, adequate funding, and training for law enforcement will also be a top priority.”

Pennsylvania House Democrats won 102 districts to Republicans’ 101 as a result of the 2022 elections. Three Democratic representatives left office after those elections, giving Republicans a functional 101-99 seat majority to start the 2023 legislative session. Democratic candidates then won special elections in all three vacant districts on Feb. 7, 2023, giving the party a majority. Zabel’s resignation reduced the majority by one. Click here to view a chart listing the key events affecting the partisan control of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives since October 2022.

As of these elections, Pennsylvania was one of 11 states with a divided government. Democrats were in the majority in the state House, and Gov. Josh Shapiro was a Democrat. Republicans controlled the state Senate.

Additional reading: